Dave Jones’ Cafe Beat

Food & Drink - November 4th, 1988

The Capitol Tokyu’s Keyaki Grill is one of those restau­rants whose prices, while well below what the food is worth in comparative terms, may seem beyond those with little discretionary income and coffee-and-sandwich expense ac­counts.

But they aren’t. It takes just a little self-discipline to bring its marvelous food and magnificent service and decor within your reach.

Here’s the way: Cut down on your cigarettes—they’re bad for your health you know; forego the purchase of the CD you just must have — it will wait for you; skip that next scotch-and-soda—it would have probably tipped you over the brink of sobriety, anyway.

Then, when you have saved up all that money and have the inner satisfaction of having exercised self-control to the benefit of your health, blow yourself to a meal at the Keya­ki Grill. You will be glad that you gave up so little for so much.

There’s another way. Get to know film producer Steve Par­ker. You may find yourself a guest of his there some day.

That’s  the  reason I found myself entering the paneled portals of the Keyaki Grill the other day: to meet Parker for lunch. As soon as I was in the place and saw the sparkling white tablecloths, the glistening cutlery and decor which never fails to stimulate my appetite, my salivary glands went into over-production.

Parker was sitting at a table with kir in hand. It was a medium pink, meaning dry. There is a problem with kirs. Sommeliers sometimes put too much cassis in them, destroy­ing their purpose as an appetite stimulant by making them too sweet.

“Dry enough for you?” I asked by way of greeting.

“Just right,” he said. “Have one.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” and I beckoned to the wine waiter, pointing to Parker’s kir.

He came over with a glass filled with white wine and car­rying a bottle of cassis, the red-currant liqueur from the Cote d’Or. He poured a few drops of the liqueur into the glass and looked at me. It was a shade too light. I shook my head. He poured a little more, looked, and I nodded. It was an excellent kir, just what Mayor Kir of Dijon had in­tended when he invented the drink.

A waiter brought over two menus. Mine had no prices on it, as I was the guest. I found out the prices later though. Vice President and Executive Chef Karl Hoermann does a very wise thing in making up bis menus. He includes items which, by combination, can make a light, a medium or a very heavy meal.

Both of us decided on med­ium and Parker started with Salmon Tartar on Melba Toast, ¥2,900, followed by Cold Consomme “Zarevitch,” topped with sour cream and caviar, ¥1,500, and a Fricasse of Sweetbread “Poivre Vert,” served with wild rice, ¥4,200. I began with Lightly Smoked Hokkaido Salmon, served with horse radish, capers and chopped egg yolk, ¥3,200, the same consomme as Parker’s and a Beef Steak Tartar, ¥7,500.

Wine? We agreed on a white. The color of the wine you order often depends upon your taste. It just so happens I believe a cold white goes better with a spicy tartar steak which, on my palate, complete­ly routs a red. Parker thought the pepper sauce threw his sweetbreads on the side of white, also. He chose a bottle of de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume, 1986, ¥11,000.

Baron Patrick de Ladoucette never fails in his wine-making, being very devoted to style and tradition while making use of the most modern equipment available. Even in weak years, you can count on a de Ladoucette wine, because he picks the grapes with care to keep the acidity down. Acidity is a problem with poor vintages; 1986 was a great vintage on the Loire.

Parker, a gourmet who not only knows food but what goes into it, as he is an amateur chef of professional ability, was very happy with his choices. The flavors were mingled well to make each dish distinctive and tasty, he said. In my case, I was particularly satisfied with the sal­mon and tartar steak.

As for the Pouilly-Fume, it had just the right balance be­tween sweetness and acidity, to put it simply, plus the delight­ful smoky, tasty characteristic of the wine. It was also cool enough to comfort my tongue after its encounter with the sprightly spiciness of the tartar steak.

The service was typically Japanese, a synonym for im­peccable. It, the decor and especially the food give the Keyaki Grill world-class status, if I may borrow an over-used word from the sports pages.

Then there is the wine list. Representatives from just about every wine region can be found on the list at respec­table prices, with many half-bottles for those who have to get back to the office after lunch. There are wines from every region in France that counts, and from some that don’t count but are good buys nevertheless: Germany, Italy, Australia, California.

Missing were wines from Chile, South Africa and Wash­ington State, which has some very good whites and reds. I plan to write about them in another column.

So take my advice. Cut down on the cigarettes and un­necessary drinking so that you can give your tastebuds a treat at the Keyaki Grill.